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Everett’s senior center could reopen with new operators

EVERETT — Activities, events and programming at Everett’s Carl Gipson Senior Center may return soon with a new group hosting the party.
Under an agreement presented to the Everett City Council last week, Volunteers of America (VOA) Western Washington would operate the community hub for ages 50+ that was shuttered by budget cuts more than a year ago.
The city of Everett and VOA have a proposed contract for the nonprofit service provider to take over management of the Carl Gipson Senior Center, 3025 Lombard Ave., for up to 14 years. The plan briefed to the council during a meeting on July 28 requires authorization from the city council and mayor before moving forward.
Bob Leonard, director of the city’s parks and facilities department, described the agreement as “a win-win-win for seniors, the city and Volunteers of America.”
The council is scheduled to vote on the agreement at its regular meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 4.
If approved, VOA would take control on Sept. 1. Services for the remainder of the year are expected to be mostly virtual, but would include continued support of the Homage meal-delivery program and, if possible, a return to in-person activities.
In 2022, similar programming as previously offered at the senior center is expected to return and operation hours would be extended to a minimum of Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
A representative from VOA Western Washington declined to comment on the proposed agreement or plans for the senior center until after the city council makes its decision.
In May 2020, the city closed the senior center and six staff members were let go as part of widespread cuts to remedy a lofty budget deficit.
According to the terms of the proposal, the city would pay VOA $28,750 per month in 2021 to operate the facility. In 2022, that amount would be raised to $37,500 a month and would decrease steadily until 2027.
In total, the city would pay a little more than $1.8 million over the next seven years for management of the center. Leonard said the city saves nearly $5 million dollars over the full length of the contract while maintaining the valuable senior center services.
“Each year we go along, the financial burden to the city gets lessened and in no single year are we exceeding what we would have paid (to operate the senior center) anyway,” Leonard said.
After 2027, VOA would be compensated through fundraising, grants and membership numbers, as well as income from renting the space, parking payments and programming fees.
“The first year is going to be the heaviest subsidy from the city of Everett and that is to give us a chance to get on our feet, begin the fundraising process and develop those many relationships,” Steve Corsi, VOA Western Washington’s president and CEO, said during last week’s council briefing. “By the fifth, sixth, seventh year, we will be raising enough funds, either through fundraising or services offered, we will figure out ways to finance all the years forward.”
The city would retain the senior center building as an asset and be responsible for the facilities’ maintenance. VOA would fund all expenses related to operating and staffing the space.
Under the proposal, the city would maintain an annual oversight of the senior center’s budget, the services being provided and events that are scheduled. It also includes a regular review of VOA’s performance as stewards of the space. Either party can terminate the agreement at any point in the 14-year contract with six months’ notice




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